Skip to content

Show & Tell

April 1, 2012

Have you finished your Oh My Stars! quilt yet?  I certainly haven’t!  I had such high hopes for last week, but there were just too many other things that took priority.  But I promised to put up a linky post this weekend, so here it is.  I’m going to keep it open for a good long time so that people have time to finish up.  People like me… :)

So if you’ve finished up your quilt, or at least have the top put together, then please share!  I’ve really been loving the work people have been posting in the Flickr group, and I can’t wait to see how everyone chooses to quilt the finished products.  I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do with mine.  And you don’t have to have a blog to play along, you are more than welcome to link to a Flickr photo, etc.



(Ok…so after much fussing around it seems that blogs hosted on WordPress.com don’t allow javascript, and therefore won’t allow me to display the link list within the blog post. Boo-urns. Yet another reason why I really need to shift to self-hosting this blog. You know, eventually.

But you can still add your link by clicking on the symbol above. And you can see all the other links there, too.)

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)
Advertisement

…Spring?

March 22, 2012

I don’t know about where you live, but around here the weather has been nothing short of unbelievable.  Record-breaking.  And I must admit a tad concerning.  I can’t shake the feeling that some sort of April snowmageddon is inevitable given how nice the weather has been.  It’s been in the mid to high 20s for days, and I’m beginning to forget that it’s not actually summer yet.  I mean, we’ve had a humidex factor the last few days!  (I understand that things will be a bit more normal this weekend.)

Stella is thrilled.  Her favourite warm-weather pastime is to chill on the balcony off my studio and watch the world below.  The neighbours refer to her as Queen Stella, surveying her vast kingdom.  She never barks, just observes intently.

Surveying her kingdom.

Surveying her kingdom.

Surveying her kingdom.

Surveying her kingdom.

Of course, Stella and I aren’t the only one’s enjoying the warmth.  My garden is coming alive at a rapid – alarming? – rate.  In fact, there are a few things coming up that will very likely need protection from the inevitable spring frost yet to come.  But for now it’s been nice to get into the garden and start to clean things up.

Spring.

It’s also been a great opportunity to get a jump start on some of the spring cleaning chores around the house.  Am I the only one who sees quilt designs everywhere I look?

Spring cleaning...

I hope you’re all enjoying some lovely weather, no matter where you are!

Constructing The Top

March 8, 2012

I can’t believe we’re at the end!  The final tutorial…time flies, doesn’t it?!

Now I know that many of you have already worked out your own strategy for piecing everything together, which is great!  But for people who need a bit more direction, I hope that the following diagrams help.  Essentially, the top is broken down into a small number of large sections which can each in turn be broken down into smaller parts that are easy to put together.

For a throw/twin quilt, there are six (6) sections, and for a full/queen quilt there are two (2) more sections for a total of eight (8).  (What?  You don’t remember there being a full/queen option?!  Well, someone wrote to me asking if I would mind working out a slightly larger version, and I was happy to oblige.  I’ll be adding the necessary details to the post about the blank diagrams as soon as I’m done here.)  In the following diagrams I am including the extra two sections (the pink and purple on the left side), but if you are making the smaller size then just ignore those.  Everything else is the same.

To begin, arrange your completed stars according to the groupings shown below, and start joining them together.

Completing the Top

Once you’ve sewn together the individual sections (the stars within the dashed boxes in the above image), you can begin to join them together. First, join the sections in pairs:

Completing the Top

Then join the paired sections together into the completed design:

Completing the Top

At this point, your finished top will be 60″ x 84″ if you are making the smaller size, and 80″ x 84″ if you are making the larger size. If you’d like to increase the size of your completed quilt (68″ x 92″ for the small, 88″ x 92″ for the large) by adding borders, then start with the strips for the top and bottom. For the small they are 4-1/2″ x 60-1/2″, and for the large they are 4-1/2″ x 80-1/2″.

Completing the Top

Then add the strips to the side. In both cases they are 4-1/2″ x 92-1/2″.

Completing the Top

Tada!!  A completed top!  (At least in theory…I have a few more 4″ stars to make before I get there myself…)

Completing the Top

Completing the Top

I think that this should be enough information, but if you have any questions then head over to the Flickr group and ask them in the discussion thread I’ve started here.  I’ll be stopping by shortly myself, since I have lots of catching up to do.  I’m sure there have been lots of lovely new stars posted while I’ve been away!  I’m still catching up on all my email, too, but I’ll try to answer the questions that have come in by the end of the day.

And I’d love it if everyone would join me back here for a little linky party at the end of the month (March 31st) to share their images of their finished quilts.  Sound good?

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)


VNR

March 5, 2012

It has been a difficult few weeks.

I went home for the long weekend (Family Day here in Canada, President’s Day south of the border) thinking that it would be a short stay.  Dad really wanted to spend a day skiing with me, something I hadn’t done in about 15 years…and for the record, I can’t believe that I am old enough to say something like that!  So I headed north on the Friday evening, and had a lovely few days visiting with family and enjoying the outdoors.

I was packing the car and readying myself for the drive back south when the charge nurse from my grandfather’s nursing home called to say that he had developed pneumonia and wasn’t doing well.  So I unpacked the car and Mum, Nana and I spent the rest of the week sitting with him, watching him struggle for every breath, ensuring that he received enough medication to keep him from feeling any pain.  He died on Saturday, just before 11:00 pm.

The week since has been one of mixed emotions.  In many ways we have been hoping for this for a while.  Dementia took Poppa from us five years ago, and it has been incredibly painful to see him living a life that would have horrified him.  He was smart.  The kind of smart that took him from living on the streets of London during WWII to a Vice Presidency at Bausch & Lomb.  The kind of smart that awarded him a commission in the Black Watch despite being neither a Scot nor an aristocrat.  The kind of smart that allowed him to write electrical engineering exams having never even finished high school.  Dinner at my grandparents’ house was always engaging, with heated discussions about politics and ethics.  I learned from Poppa that you can learn more from playing the devil’s advocate in a debate than from defending your own beliefs.  He also had an excellent sense of humour, which often had us in stitches for most of the meal.

My grandfather had an impeccable eye for art and design, and he taught me to value thoughtful design in everyday objects.  His closet was full of custom-tailored suits, and my grandparents’ home was full of lovely, well-built furnishings and the walls were covered in original art.  While I did not follow directly in his footsteps, my decision to study architecture was in part because of the example he set.

And he was the ultimate boy scout.  Likely due in part to an early life of uncertainty on the street, and in part to his officer training and time served in the Middle East, he believed in preparedness, and his car was a survival kit on wheels:  blankets, flares, cans of food, bottles of water, paddles, life jackets…  He took his role as family protector seriously, and always made sure that we felt safe and supported and loved.

He was a role model to us all: to work hard, to be generous, to be thoughtful, to be loyal.  He set quite an example.  I am grateful that his suffering has finally ended, but I will miss him.

Black Watch

Victor Norman Ryland

Globe and Mail

Captain Bligh. ;)

Christmas 1981

Ryland's Rangers c.1994

Exploding Star

February 21, 2012

We’ve reached the end!  Woohoo!  One final option and then we can get to work piecing together the top.

I was really pushing to have this posted last Friday, before the long weekend, and since I was driving north to my parents for a few days with my brother and sister-in-law, I couldn’t just leave when it was finished.  I had a deadline.  Now, the room with the best natural sunlight is two stories down from where my machine is, so I was running up and down the stairs trying to get it finished.  Stella was also running up and down the stairs, wondering what all the fuss was about and trying to trip me with each flight.  Who knew that quilting could be such an extreme sport?!  Well, I came really close to having it finished, but right before the “finish it up” step I really did have to go.  I threw all the pieces in a box and today I hauled out my mum’s machine to finish it up.  (I’m so jealous of her machine and can’t believe she doesn’t use it more often!)

Just like the last few blocks, this one is a serious scrap-buster.  And while there are lots of pieces, it’s very straight-forward.  The centre is essentially just a Courthouse Steps block, but we’re going to throw some striped star points onto it.

Exploding Star Tutorial

Starting with the centre 2″ square, work your way out, adding two strips to opposite sides with each step.  I cut my strips longer then necessary so that I could square up after each step, ensuring the accuracy of the block.

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

When the centre is finished it should be 6-1/2″ square.  If you are worried about the accuracy of your 1/4″ seam allowances, you could cut the final two steps of the block a bit wide (maybe 2″ instead?) and then trim down the centre when you’re finished.

Next we need to piece the star points.  Again, I cut the pieces longer than necessary so that I had the freedom to square things up later.  Sew the strips to each other in the order you’d like, ensuring that you have four (4) left-leaning blocks and four (4) right-leaning blocks.

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Exploding Star Tutorial

Then trim the two sides with make the right-angle to 3-7/8″ (2-7/8″ | 1-7/8″) in length, and cut from corner to corner to create a triangle.

Exploding Star Tutorial

When you’ve sewn the striped triangles to the QSTs cut from the large square of background fabric (such as with the Plaid Star), you should have four (4) flying geese which are 6-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ each.

Exploding Star Tutorial

Now sew everything together (a 3-hour car ride is NOT necessary for this step to be successful…) and guess what?  You’ve completed your final star variation!

Exploding Star Tutorial

Now then, I think we all need a bit of time to get all our stars completed (I have a pile of 4-inch stars that need finishing up!), so how’s about we meet back later next week for a strategy for putting all these lovelies together?  Sound like a plan?  As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)


Shimmering Star

February 16, 2012

Are you seeing the starry quilt at the end of the tunnel?  I know I am!  I’m really looking forward to putting this sucker together!

This star is pretty straightforward, with lots of repetition, but because there are so many pieces there is also lots of opportunity for little inaccuracies to add up.  So a little extra diligence is required with both the cutting and the seam allowances in order to end up with a finished block that is 12-1/2″ unfinished.  Also, while I have provided the dimensions for the 4″ star because it’s tradition at this point, I’ll be really impressed if any of you succeed in making one!

Shimmering Star Tutorial

There are many ways to arrange the pieces to achieve a number of effects, including the following three (although there are many more if you play around) :

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Shimmering Star Tutorial

The last option is the one that I picked, since I thought it was the most “shimmery.”

First, use twelve (12) squares from each of the two fabrics to make HST square units.  (Save 4 of each to cut in half diagonally for the star points.)

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Forgive me for not walking you through each step, but I figure that we’ve done this before, so you probably know what to do, right?!  When the HST squares are sewn and pressed, trim them to 2″ (1-1/2″ | 1″) before continuing.

Again, I didn’t take pictures of putting the centre together, since it’s essentially a 16-patch.  Just make sure that it’s 6-1/2″ (4-1/2″ | 2-1/2″) square when you’re finished.  And you should have eight (8) of the HST squares left over for the points.

Speaking of the points…  Which pieces go where will be a bit different depending on the layout you decide upon, but the method is the same no matter what.  You’re going to sew two (2) of the HSTs you cut earlier to each of the remaining HST squares, following the steps below:

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Shimmering Star Tutorial

Shimmering Star Tutorial

(I didn’t notice that I had forgotten to clip the overhanging seam allowance until after I had documented this step, but you clipping it will help keep the bulk down, so I recommend it.)

Shimmering Star Tutorial

When you have the points sewn and pressed, trim them to 3-7/8″ (2-7/8″ | 1-7/8″) on both sides that create the right angle, and then trim the diagonal to the new “corners.”  You should be trimming off an amount about 1/8″ wide.

From here, you can sew up your star point flying geese following the directions we used last time for the Plaid Star, and then put the whole thing together!

Shimmering Star Tutorial

One more to go!!!!

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)

 

Plaid Star

February 12, 2012

Well, let me just say that geometry can be a real jerk.  I started out yesterday confident that I would have this baby whipped up in a matter of minutes.  But that confidence was completely unfounded.  I wasn’t far into my block construction when I realized that I had made a rather obvious (in hindsight) false assumption.  So…back to the drawing board, or graph paper, as it were.  I cut everything out, sewed all my parts together (taking many pictures along the way) and…  Ugh.  Geometry got the better of me a second time.

I got to work recutting all the pieces for the star points, grabbed my camera and…  Grrr.  Out of batteries.  I guess I can’t blame geometry for that one, can I?!  So I decided to go to bed.  Sometimes walking away is the best solution, don’t you think?

I’ve heard a number of comments through this whole process about how people are challenging themselves to construct blocks that are out of their comfort zone, which I think is really exciting.  Well, the same is true for me.  My promise to provide 15 different variations was a bit of a leap of faith on my part.  I had lots of options on paper and trusted that I would be able to work out how to make them when the time came, something that has turned out to be easy in some cases and more challenging in others.  I’ve really pushed my understanding of block design, and I might not have done so, had there not been an audience ready and waiting for the next tutorial.  So I owe you all a THANK YOU for motivating me to take some chances and work through some frustrating moments!  (And also a thanks for your patience with me this week!)

There are many pieces in this block, but it has the potential to be a great way to use up scraps.  The two sets of eight (8) that are used to make the star points end up having so much trimmed away that you can use scraps that have chunks missing from one corner.  (Scroll down to see what I mean.)

Plaid Star Tutorial

To start, we’ll put together the centre.  To keep from needing to be wordy, I put all the pieces for the centre of the block in the bottom row of the diagram above.

Take the two strips of fabric #2 (blue) and attach them to each side of the square of fabric #1 (yellow).  Press and set aside.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Attach the two stripes of fabric #3 (purple) to the rectangle of fabric #2.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Press, and then cut the resulting rectangle in half along the long dimension.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Now take the three (3) parts you’ve assembled thus far and sew them together as is shown in the following photos.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Press and set the centre block aside.

Now onto the points.  First we have to create the stripes by sewing our blue and yellow bits together.  Four (4) sets need to be “L” shaped, and the other four (4) need to be mirrored “L”s.  Also, since it’s not entirely clear from the photos, you are sewing the short dimension of the yellow blocks to the blue blocks.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

When the “L”s are sewn and pressed, trim them to 3-7/8″ (2-7/8″ | 1-7/8″) in both directions.  Take care that the blue fabric remains 1-3/4″ wide (1-1/4″ | 0-3/4”) while you trim.

Finally, create the triangles by cutting from the upper corner on the blue fabric to the lower corner of the yellow fabric.

Plaid Star Tutorial

Now we can assemble the flying geese.  When you sew the points you just made to the QSTs (cut from the large square of background fabric…), line the edges up along the “tail” of the goose, so that there is a bit of fabric overhanging at the “beak.”

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Plaid Star Tutorial

Trim up your four geese to 6-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ and then assemble your pieces using the strategy from the basic star.  And you’ve gone plaid!!!  (Anyone else watch Spaceballs FAR TOO OFTEN  as a kid?!)

Plaid Star Tutorial

I have to say, even though I spent more time with my seam ripper and my graph paper than my sewing machine on this one, I think it might be my favourite so far.  I hope you like it, too!

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)


Checkerboard Star

February 10, 2012

My supreme apologies for my disappearance this week.  I had an unexpected opportunity to visit my sister, something that we had been trying to make work for ages, so I jumped at the chance.  We spent our days chatting, walking the pups, eating yummy food (Rachel is a great cook…I keep trying to get her start up a food blog) and generally enjoying each other’s company.  I wish we weren’t four hours apart!

But I’m back, and I have the first of this week’s tutorials ready to go.  The other will come later today.

Now, you may be coming down to just scraps of the fabrics you picked for this project, so the remaining four stars are designed to accommodate that possibility.  While I decided to make this star using strips of fabric, you could just as easily cut squares from your scraps and achieve the same effect.  Similarly, while I used only two fabrics in my star, you could use scraps of warm and cool fabrics, or light and dark fabrics…you get the idea!

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Begin by sewing the two strips of fabric together along the long dimension, and then press. (Now you might notice that my strips aren’t a precise 15-3/4″ long.  That’s because I wanted to try to avoid the green flower centres since I found them a bit visually distracting in an earlier block.  So I left myself a little room to fussy-cut the pairs.)

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Next, cut six (6) sets of paired fabrics 2-5/8″ wide (2″ and 1-1/4″ for the other two sizes).

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Now we will start to assemble the sub-units for the star.  The very centre of the star is made of two of the pairs sewn together:

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Next, we’ll move on to the star points.  Take the 3″ squares and cut them in half diagonally to create eight (8) half-square triangles (HSTs).  Now take two (2) HSTs from each fabric and sew them to the 3-1/2″ squares of background fabric.

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Press and then repeat with the remaining four (4) HSTs, making sure that each square of background fabric has an HST of both fabrics sewn to it – two (2) with fabric #1 on the right, and two (2) with fabric #1 on the left.

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Trim up the little “envelopes” to 4-3/4″ wide (3-3/8″ | 1-7/8″).  Now attach the remaining six (6) fabric pairs that you created earlier in the process to each of the star points units.

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

At this point it would be helpful to lay everything out to make sure that you have everything in the right place to create the checkerboard effect.

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Assemble the star in three rows, as we did with the Woven Star and the Radiant Star.  (The large triangles of background fabric are QSTs cut from the 7-3/8″ | 5-3/8″ | 3-1/4″ square.)

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

Now put the three rows together and voila!  I’m really excited to see how everyone interprets this block!

Checkerboard Star Tutorial

I’ll be back in a bit. ;)

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)

 

Radiant Star

February 2, 2012

I want to start this post with a quick review of where we should be right now…provided that we’ve been making the suggested number of stars each week.  Which I haven’t been, so please don’t let these numbers discourage you.  I was taking stock of my own progress and thought it would be a good idea for everyone to get a sense of the numbers.

Not including this post, we have now done 10 star variations.  So if you’ve been working at the rate suggested at the beginning of this whole thing, that means that you should have 10 large stars, 20 medium stars and 50 small stars.  That means that you have 5 large, 8 medium and 18 small stars left to go.  Now, you might notice that if you followed the current schedule, you would end up with 5 large, 10 medium and 25 small stars, which is too many!  But isn’t it nice that you can slow down a bit and coast towards the finish line?!  So just keep this in mind as we work through the last 5 variations.

This star is quite similar in construction to the Woven Star, so there are places here where I’ve been brief with the photographs.  If something is confusing then hopefully you can pop over to that post for some clarity.  This star requires three (3) foreground fabrics cut into the following shapes:

Radient Star Tutorial

The 3″ squares of fabric #3 (yellow) will each be cut into 2 half-square triangles, and the large 7-3/8″ square of background fabric will be cut into 4 quarter-square triangles.

To begin, we’re going to make 4 flying geese, using the method outlined for the Basic Star.  But in this case, rather than using both foreground and background fabrics, we’re just going to use foreground fabrics.  Use the 5-1/2″ square of fabric #3 (yellow) and the 3″ squares of fabric #2 (orange).

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

The finished geese units should be trimmed to 4-3/4″ x 2-5/8″  (3-3/8″ x 2″  |  1-7/8″ x 1-1/4″   …in both these cases I’ve rounded the short dimension up by 1/16″.  Because I don’t think that anyone will be cutting to that accuracy, anyway!)

Next, we’re going to assemble four (4) “envelope” units to make the star points.  Begin by cutting the 3″ squares of fabric #3 (yellow) into HSTs, and then attach them to the 3-1/2″ squares of background fabric.  The edges should align, and the point of the triangle should be in the centre of the square.  Unfortunately, there are no seams to tell us where that is, so you can use a ruler, or mark the square with a water-soluable marking pen.  When adding the second triangle, make sure to measure to the centre from the outside edge, since the edge attached to triangle #1 now has the seam allowance involved, and is therefore closer to the finished centre.  Clear as mud?!

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

The finished envelope units need to be trimmed to 4-3/4″ wide.  When you have both the geese and the envelopes finished, sew them together so that fabric #3 creates a chevron shape.

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

From this point forward, the construction is the same as the Woven Star.  Use the QSTs of background fabric to create two larger triangles with two of the envelope units in the centre of each one.  Then attach the remaining two envelope units to either side of the 4-3/4″ square of fabric #1 to create the centre strip.

Radient Star Tutorial

Radient Star Tutorial

Then sew the three large components together to complete the star!

Radient Star Tutorial

Only four more to go…are you getting excited to put it all together?  I know I am!

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)

 

Quattro Stagioni Star

January 31, 2012

A few years ago I spent a term studying in Rome.  It was a fabulous experience, filled with art and architecture…and food.  Lots of yummy food.  Thankfully I walked everywhere or I would have put on some serious pounds.  To be honest, I didn’t eat that much pizza, since there were so many other things to try, but when I did I often ordered the quattro stagioni, or “four seasons.”  Why settle for one pizza when you can sample four, right?!  When I was playing around with this block today I kept thinking about Rome and the pizza…and the cheese, and the bread, and the gelati, and the espresso, and the suppli, and the cheap wine…suffice it to say that Southern Ontario was feeling a little mundane.

This block is essentially just a basic star with a four-patch centre, but some careful attention to the fabric placement produces a star which appears divided into quadrants.  So pick four different fabrics and then cut the pieces according to the following sizes:

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

The star points are created using the same method as in the basic star, but be sure that you begin with two fabrics that you wish to have opposite one another in the final star.

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

Then add the other two fabrics to complete the flying geese.

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

When you press and square up the four flying geese, you should end up with four geese that each have a different combination of your four fabrics.

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

Next, lay out your 3-1/2″  squares of foreground fabric in a grid that will work with the star points that you’ve created.  It helps to do this step second just in case you don’t end up with the fabrics in the locations you expected in the star points.

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

When you sew up the four-patch and press it, it should square up at 6-1/2″.

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

Attach all the parts according to the process used for the basic star, and you’ll have a lovely, yummy, star!

Quattro Stagioni Star Tutorial

And I think I’ll be making pizza for dinner tonight…

Oh My Stars! (A Quilt-Along)